Developed by: Ankake Supa Publisher: Marvelous USA Reviewed on: Playstation 4
Touhou: Scarlet Curiosity is the most recent entry in the lineup of Touhou games to be released on the PlayStation 4. Taking the reins of either protagonists, Sakuya or Remilia, you search to discover the reason behind the monster sightings in the area.
Touhou: Scarlet Curiosity is a bullet dodging adventure game, a combination of overhead camera exploration and 2D sidescrolling. Transitions are fluid and feel well-tailored to the changing map structures without feeling gimmicky. The game controls very well, a necessity when dodging projectiles point-blank. The difficulty isn’t especially high until the end of each character’s route, giving you time to get used to how your character plays and controls; most early bosses are easily beatable by stringing combos and skills together until the boss is defeated, or at the very least, very wounded.
Aesthetically, Touhou: Scarlet Curiosity wraps its gameplay in crisp and sharp visuals, disguising the fact that this game is made by a relatively small studio that previously only produced fangames. Depth of field, bokeh and foreground parallax details all lend to the quality of the work on screen. On a side note, in a series where you often lose sight your character in a shower of bullets bullets, Touhou Scarlet Curiosity does not have this issue.
The music is sharp and eclectic, in a very distinctly Touhou fashion, with the composer having directly worked with ZUN of Team Shanghai Alice, the one-man group behind all of the Touhou franchise’s main offerings. The music doesn’t feel fatiguing or bland, even when returning to stages or bosses multiple times. Familiar leitmotifs of characters in previous entries of the game return with those characters, giving a wave of nostalgia (or sometimes fear) whenever you hear those notes start to spill out of your speakers.
The story differs depending on the character chosen, but both revolve around the newspapers distributed by the BunBunMaru newspaper agency, staffed entirely by a small order of Crow-women who cannot publish lies. Either at your master’s behest or your boredom as the master of the mansion, you seek out the problems causing these newspaper articles, with the intent to solve said problem.
Various returning characters from previous entries come across your path and battles take place, in the usual Touhou fashion of common disagreeableness of the ladies of the land of Gensokyo. Marvelous USA did a great job with the localization efforts, capturing the essence of each character’s personality while avoiding the mires of over-localization or over-transliteration.
Overall, Touhou: Scarlet Curiosity is a fun romp into the top-down/side-scrolling genre, with gameplay that gets you engaged. Give it a shot if you are a fan of Touhou looking for something new or if a fan of the top-down adventure genre.